“Dear Mikey, this is me speaking. How is it going? Are you rich yet? Personally, I just finished drawing up some rough plans for the new bathroom upstairs and wanted to ask… is it finished yet, or did you give up and decide to build a library–or something easier–up there?”
Though you may find a better topic than new plumbing, if you could send a letter to your future self, what would it say? Would you ask yourself about the dreams and aspirations you had at the moment you wrote the letter, or would you caution yourself against unnecessary expenditures? (Did I really need a 1080p LED television with 4 HDMI ports?)
The contents of your letter are totally up to you of course, but had you manufactured your missive when you were, say, 10 years old, would you have really understood what questions to ask? And can you imagine your 20 or 30-year-old self responding to those questions?
Given that you still have the same email address, there are now services on the internet (such as futureme.org) that will let you send a letter to the future. But that all seems a little over-the-techie-edge to me, especially when simpler solutions exist; ones that can include the kids! And we’re not talking about a time capsule here per se, but just a small repository for letters and the occasional trinket, one which should survive for at least ten years if not longer. And here’s how you do it:
Sealable mason jars work really well with projects like this as they are largely immune to the forces of nature and are meant to “keep” things. If your budget doesn’t allow for such high-zoot archival devices, you can use something like a mayonnaise jar, or even a sturdy plastic jar that once held something like peanut butter (not the easiest to clean out btw) or salsa (your keepsakes will have a definite picante-ish aroma). Rinse well, and set aside to dry for at least a day.
While waiting for every hint of moisture to evict itself from your vessel, have the kids sit down and write themselves a letter (you too!). Be sure they date it, and ask them to include something about activities they are currently involved in, such as; friends at school, sports, pets, neighbors, favorite toys, or favorite foods. A random doodle or two will provide plenty of entertainment for the future “me” as well.
If you’d like the kids to thoroughly enjoy opening their capsule (or capsules, what the heck) years from now, find something small to add to the mix that speaks of the technology of the day, as in a flash drive, a used video game cartridge, or even one of your outdated cell phones (I know you have at least one, and try to remove the battery if you do). To wit: Nothing becomes outdated faster than the latest memory-filled and RAM-laced device.
Now, gather your treasures and letters, have the munchkins fit them neatly into the jar, and perhaps jot down on a Post-It note the exact date, and slip it in there as well. Then bury it.
The corner of a garden will suffice for this step in the process, and be sure to let the kids help dig the hole. Try to make the depth of the hole at least 12 inches, preferably away from the prized rose bushes and the main underground sprinkler line (if applicable). If your family has a penchant for relocating every 1-2 years, you might consider the garden of a close relative or friend with a little less wanderlust, or even a nearby park. Cover your cachet with the leftover dirt, pat the ground firmly, and do whatever you can to make the ground appear undisturbed.
While you’re in the process of archiving your capsule, be sure to bring along a digital camera or phone, and record the burial from several different vantage points, trying to include some reference points (trees, fences, etc.) which will make it easier to reclaim the object in the future. A commemorative rock placed above the spot will help as well.
Then wait. LOL!
Whether you decide to go for one year, five, or even ten, the memories you and the kids will unearth will be priceless. And just to be clear, I’m not talking about the memories within the cache as much as those ingrained within your children of the activity itself.
Did I mention removing those batteries?
Teach. Learn. Enjoy!